Languedoc-Roussillon is one of those areas of France where you can feel like you’re totally cur off from the rest of the country. Commercial tourism has been very slow to capitalise on the region, meaning you can still enjoy a slice of authentic French rural life at its finest. A mixture of landscapes also makes it a great place to visit, with a good stretch of coastline offering a totally different experience to more bucolic interiors. Whatever you’re looking for, our range of luxury villas and chateaux in Languedoc means you can get exactly the kind of holiday you want with accommodation that’s perfectly tailored to you, your friends and your family.
With its unique cultural idiosyncrasies and independent identity, Languedoc has long marched to the beat of its own drum. It wears its long history proudly, and reminders of the many people who have settled here – among them the Romans, the Moors and the Cathars – provide ample sightseeing opportunities for history-loving visitors. Geographically too, it has lots to offer with a great variety of landscapes, from endless sandy beaches and flamingo-crammed wetlands to the dramatic hills and forests of the interior. As France’s biggest and arguably most exciting wine region – less stringent rules mean winemakers here aren’t hampered by tradition – it also excels at wine tourism.
- Roman Nimes – Attend a summer gigs in this atmospheric Roman amphitheatre.
- Pont du Gard – See this picturesque aqueduct, one of France’s most remarkable Roman sights.
- Carcassonne – Stride the battlements at this outstanding hilltop fort.
- Arles – See the old stomping ground of Van Gogh, where the ill-fated artist created some of his most well-known works.
- Pic St. Loup – Hike to the mountain peak for a picnic at the summit.
- Aigues-Mortes – Scale the ramparts of this walled medieval town.
- Chateau de Puilaurens – Explore this dramatically set Cathar mountain stronghold.
When to Visit?
Languedoc enjoys four distinct seasons. Summer, the season for swimming and sunning, is when it’s at its hottest and busiest. May and June are pleasantly warm, though they may be subject to a smattering of late spring showers, which will gradually decrease as the days wear on. July and August are balmy and perma-sunny, with temperatures rising to the high 30s.
If you’d rather something a little more temperate, get in ahead of the crowds in spring. Autumn is also mild, though thunder storms are more likely to strike. If you can withstand a downpour or two, it can be an excellent time to come nevertheless: the vines turn orange and rust, the air becomes crisper and the temperatures become less stifling, making hiking in the hills a dream. Swimming isn’t out of the question in autumn either, with warmer weather holding until around mid-October.
Winters are harsher here than you might expect, with the odd sprinkling of snow on high elevations and frequent frosty mornings. It’s by no means dreary though, and the brilliantly bright and clear skies and cloaks of evergreens will lift the mood.
- Airports: Montpellier airport, Carcassonne airport, Nimes airport, Beziers airport and Perpignan airport have direct flights from the UK.
- Public transport: France’s extensive national SNCF train network connects almost all of the major towns in Languedoc, with buses supplementing their services. Within the larger centres, such as Toulouse and Albi, private bus services are regular, but in the more sparsely populated regions, transport is less tourist-oriented. Tarn and Hérault have decent rural bus networks, but in many parts of Corbières and Haut Languedoc, for instance, public transport is irregular at best, and more likely non-existent.
- By Bike: With a historical church, ruined castle or Roman ruin lurking at every turn, cycling through Languedoc is never dull. There are shorter cycle routes and greenways in the region, though no dedicated long-distance bike paths, with the exception of the 240-kilometre Canal du Midi path, which tracks the canal banks from Toulouse all the way to Marseillan.
- Taxis: Hailing taxis is generally not the done thing in Languedoc; you’ll have more luck finding them at taxi stands or by booking ahead by phone.
- Hiring a car: Driving in Languedoc is a treat, and allows for access to those remote and rarely explored areas that can’t be reached by public transport. Two main motorways (Autoroutes) run through the region: One connects Toulouse to Narbonne, and another runs along the Mediterranean coast. Both are tolled, but are generally less congested than the free-of-charge national roads. Car hire companies like Hertz have outposts all across the region in locations such as Narbonne, Toulouse, Perpignan, Montpellier.
- There are countless places to swim in Languedoc, but few are as gorgeous as Lac Du Salagou. The deep blue of the lake’s water contrasts with the lunar-like red volcanic rock that surrounds it. What’s more, there is a near-never-ending list of things to do: swim, sail, fish, windsurf, hike or cycle – and don’t forget to check out the ghost town of Celles, an abandoned lakeside village.
- If there was a beauty contest for the prettiest village in the South of France, competition would be fierce, but we’ll wager that the impossibly quaint St-Guilhem-le-Désert would at the very least earn a spot on the podium. A warren of windy lanes located on the banks of the Hérault gorge, this remote UNESCO-listed settlement is a real sleeping beauty.
- Assignan is a village quite unlike any other in Languedoc. This flamboyant little hamlet was a settlement on the wane with just a few permanent residents left, before a Flemish couple came to town, set up a funky chateau and begin buying up the deserted buildings. They converted them into holiday homes, shops and restaurants, injecting pops of vibrant red, pink and purple reminiscent of the wines of the region.
- Most toast a special occasion with Champagne, Prosecco or Cava, but canny fizzy wine drinkers will know that there is another really good sparkling wine that doesn’t get the attention it deserves: Blanquette de Limoux. It’s made in the appellation of Limoux, south of Carcassonne, and dates back to at least 1531, preceding Dom Pérignon’s famous ‘discovery’.
- Clinging to the upper slopes of a scrub-covered mountainside, the peaceful Abbey of Saint Martin du Canigou requires you break a sweat to get there. Tours of the bewitching abbey are only in French, but Anglophones needn’t worry; the gobsmacking views are the primary draw, and they need no explanation.
- Sugar is in the air at the gummy focused Haribo Museum, where the sweet jellies take centre stage. Expect historical Haribo facts, exhibits constructed solely of jellies and a few treats thrown in for good measure, as well as a shop packed to the brim with every imaginable Haribo variety.
For parents travelling with kids, the South of France is hard to beat, and Languedoc is about as family-friendly as it gets. Not only does the region have an assortment of Roman ruins for playing gladiator and imposing castles for little raiders to besiege, but it also serves up city-centric children’s fun in Montpellier and Nimes, as well as outdoor adventure in the Pyrenees’ foothills – perfect for intrepid little explorers.The laid-back locals, who take shrieking toddlers and sullen teens in their stride, will make families feel comfortable and welcome wherever they go.
Even better, there are very few places where you can’t take the kids; it’s the norm for children to stay up late with their parents here, often hanging about in cafés and restaurants until 10 or 11 p.m.Before you set off, you’ll have to find a family-friendly villa for your ménage. Then scroll through our cherry-picked selection of the top family activities and best places for children in Languedoc.
Best Family Activities in Languedoc
- A trip to an art gallery or museum might have some kids groaning, but there’s plenty to choose from throughout Languedoc, and many will have something that’s bound to fire up their imagination in one way or another.
- A great example is Le Vallon du Villaret, which is a sculpture park in the middle of a forest! You can all enjoy a wonderful nature walk while taking on some artwork at the same time – and of course, it’s all good exercise.
- For another spin on the historic day out, try the ruins of the Chateau de Peyrepertuse. Sitting atop a rocky peak they’re delightfully picturesque and offer great views, but bear in mind the climb up may be tricky for smaller kids and there’s no shops on-site (so bring a picnic!)
- There a good few theme parks and adventure trails dotted around Languedoc’s countryside and towns, and visiting one is a fantastically memorable day out for everyone whether it’s fun in the water or thrilling rollercoasters you’re after.
- Looking for a different sort of day out? Argelès Aventure will take kids high into the treetops with swings and zipwires, and children as young as two even have special ‘Ouisiti’ courses they can enjoy.
- Not many people would initially see Languedoc as a coastal destination, but there are some fantastic beaches and seaside attractions just waiting to be explored
- Le Grau du Roi is a charming and vibrant seaside town on its own, but the Seaquarium means there’s plenty to do even if the weather isn’t on your side.
If you’re looking for additional activities like this, head over to our blog on the best family activities in Languedoc!
Best Family Friendly Beaches in Languedoc
- Vias Plage doesn’t have much in the way of amenities, but its easy to get to and boasts golden sands and warm water for everyone to enjoy.
- Valras Plage is pretty spacious, so there’s plenty of room for you to spread out an play without being bothered by other beachgoers. Better yet, in the summer there’s even for entertainment for the kids in the form of an adventure park and fairground rides.
- Portiragnes is fairly remote but has one big advantage if you’re bringing the whole family on holiday – it’s one of the few beaches in the area that’s dog-friendly in summer.
- Espiguette is universally known as one of Languedoc’s beaches, and is very accommodating to families. One thing to bear in mind though – the further ends of the beach are popular with nudists, so stay close to the parking if you’d rather the kids didn’t stray into their territory!
Languedoc makes a great escape for grown-up groups who want to holiday somewhere unspoilt, where the welcome is as warm as the temperature, and the accommodation options range from classic to quirky. Arranging group activities for a harmonious, like-minded group of friends is easy; the challenge is finding things to please a motley, mismatched lot.
Luckily, diversity is Languedoc’s greatest asset. For medievalists, the isolated Cathar castles, which stud the jagged thousand-foot high peaks and cliffs of the Pyrenees, are an intoxicating sight indeed. Art-lovers can follow the trail of Languedoc native Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, a post-impressionist artist remembered for his humanistic depictions of the downtrodden. Wine-enthusiasts can get acquainted with the region’s bounty of quaffable pours. Sun-worshippers ought to head for the coast, which encompasses everything from cacti-bordered stretches of sand devoid of people too busy bucket-and-spade resorts. And as for hikers, they can take to the hills. And we haven’t even gotten started on the hip cities of the south, such as Montpellier, Perpignan and Nimes…To take the trouble out of deciding what to do, we’ve been brainstorming the best grown-up group activities in Languedoc and have put together a shortlist of the most tempting.
- We’ve mentioned Languedoc’s beautiful scenery and countryside numerous times, but have you ever wondered what’s going on underneath the ground? Much of southern France is dotted with complexes of caves that can be explored, either with the help of local guides or by dint of being fully open to the public.
- The Grotte de la Salamandre is a fairly recent addition to caves open to everyone, and its impressive central chamber is well worth the visit. You can even try abseiling down!
- Staying above ground, there are plenty of ways to see Languedoc’s landscapes in a new and exciting way. Ever thought of trying a hot air balloon ride or hiring out a classic car?
- Or for something a bit more hands-on, Camargue Autrement offers a 4×4 safari through some of Languedoc’s wilder corners. You’d be surprised by some of the animals you can spot…
- Alternatively, Languedoc’s generous amount of coastline means that watersports such as diving, sailing, and surfing are easy to find and even easier to enjoy!
- Navivoile offer catamaran tours around the coast. It’s a great way to see another side of Languedoc and indulge in a little swimming and snorkeling too.
More Laid-Back Things to Do
- There’s no better way of exploring Languedoc than by bike! Not only can you choose your own itinerary, it’s easy to hop off once you spot an enticing-looking cafe by the side of the road. And of course, it’s great for any age and fitness level!
- Relax Bike Tours will not only rent you a bike, they’ll give you some great ideas for routes too – as well as dropping off the bikes to your chateau and picking them up afterwards.
- Another lovely lazy day can be found on the banks of Languedoc’s canals and rivers. Grab yo0ur fishing rod, take a relaxing walk or even drift downstream yourself by boat or canoe.
- La Compagnie des Les Bateaux du Midi do great canal boat tours that take in some beautiful natural and historic sights, and your lunch is even served on board to add that extra bit of indulgence to your day.
- Similarly, try Canoe Blanc if you feel like lazily drifting down the waterways under your own steam – and you don’t have to tackle the white water unless you don’t want to!
Want even more ideas? Check out our blog on the best things to do Languedoc!
Despite being the oldest and largest French wine region, Languedoc hasn’t always had the greatest wine reputation. In the past, thewinemakers here were guilty of churning out plonk for the mass-market. No more, though. The more forward-thinking Languedoc growers andwinemakers realized the folly of their predecessors’ ways and began testing the boundaries. Now, the wineries of this region are turning out innovative, high-quality blends that – for now at least – remain outstandingly good value.
Some of the best wines, such as the zestyPicpoul dePinet have been courting fans worldwide, while other lay in wait to be ‘discovered’ by thirsty holidaymakers.With so much wine to be tasted, you’re going to need something hearty to soak it up. Local specialities such as gardiane (bull stew with rice) and morue à la catalane (salt cod with tomatoes and peppers), will do the job just fine. It would be a shame to leave without trying salted Collioure anchovies or Bouzigues oysters – two local seafood specialties that have attracted gastronomic pilgrims to Languedoc for decades.Remember, eating in Languedoc is never purely functional; a meal here is a social occasion and shouldn’t be rushed. Hence, long lunches, multiple course-dinners and gossip at the table are a must, so when in Rome…
Best Restaurants in Languedoc
- The Restaurant la Marquière in Carcassonne is ideal if you’re up for sampling the meaty delights of Languedoc’s cuisine. The menu features a lot of game and beef cooked in classically French styles, and locals and visitors alike rave about the homemade foie gras.
- Head to Narbonne if you’re looking for slightly more refined eating. La Table Saint Crescent boasts a Michelin star and puts freshness and seasonal local ingredients right at the heart of its truly impressive menu.
- Le Bistr’AU in Nimes offers top-notch bistro-style food at a reasonable price, but the farmhouse in which its situated is also the home of a haute-cuisine restaurant if you fancy going fancier!
- L’Ambassade, which you’ll find in Béziers, is renowned for never letting diners leave hungry. Though it’s the highest quality food the portions are never frou-frou, and the cheese board here has to be seen to be believed.
You can find our full list of recommended restaurant on our post for best foodie experiences in Languedoc!
Regional Dishes to Try
- Cassoulet is one of Languedoc’s most celebrated dishes, and you’re bound to find it on menus throughout the region. A deliciously thick and unctuous bean stew made with duck, pork and sausages, it’s definitely one for the cold weather and big appetites!
- For something a bit lighter, try navettes – light and crispy biscuits flavoured with orange or rosewater.
- Embrace the region’s Mediterranean roots with boles de picolet, a French version of meatballs served in a hearty tomato sauce.
- Don’t forget the region’s seafood too – you can’t really go wrong here (so long as it’s fresh!) but oysters and anchovies are two stars to keep an eye out for.
Best Activities for Foodies
- Impressed by the food in Languedoc and wish you could cook like that? Your wish can be granted at L’Atelier de Valérie in Montpellier, which offers group cooking classes that’ll give you an insight into continental flavours and techniques.
- Domaine de l’Arjolle in Hérault is a great place to go wine tasting, though it’s a vineyard with a bit of a difference. Part of a new wave of star winemakers, the AOC restrictions that mean other wineries can only use certain grapes don’t apply to them, so you may end up finding a truly unique new tipple on your travels.
- Narbonne’s market – more formally known as Les Halles – has everything you’d expect from a classic French marketplace. You can indulge in everything from fresh fish, meat and vegetables to wines, oils, snacks and charcuterie. Be careful to get in early though – leave it too late and the whole thing will be packed up, so aim to get there well before midday.